Saturday, January 01, 2005

...Alien Life Forms & Other Creatures

A funny thing happened on the way to meet Make Mine Mike

You’d think with all the years I’ve been in sales, having to constantly tell customers “No” (“No, I can’t lower my price”, “No, I can’t throw that in at no charge”, “No, you can’t return the product you bought from us a year and a half ago for a refund”), that this ability would somehow transfer over to my personal life . No such luck. This has always been a problem for me. A few years ago I found myself attending perhaps the geekiest event known to man - an “X-Files” convention. Why did I go? My friend Leo invited me and I didn’t want to hurt his feeling by turning him down. The only event on Earth I can think of that could possibly match this in terms of pure nerdiness is a Star Trek convention. While I never did attend one of those, I did once spend hours and hours at the Las Vegas Hilton ogling the Star Trek exhibit housed there, even though I’ve never actually sat through an entire episode of Star Trek in any of its incarnations. Why did I go then? My roommate at the time, Scott, wanted to and I would have felt bad making him go by himself. Don’t even get me started on the number of terrible movies I’ve seen, ones I had absolutely no interest in watching to begin with, all because some friend of mine invited me and I just couldn’t bring myself to say no. I’ve actually taken to not answering my home telephone for fear that if I do one of my friends is going to end up making me commit to some event and I will be powerless to decline.

I find it fascinating how some people can function as seemingly normal members of society - owning homes, working at a trade, paying bills, voting, etc., while, for all intents and purposes, they are completely and totally insane.

I’ve had a work-related errand I’ve needed to run for some time now, which required picking up some equipment from one of my company’s subcontractors in Orange County and then running this equipment up to a customer in Los Angeles. This also provided a great excuse to finally get together with Mike. This subcontractor runs an audio-visual repair operation out of his garage. I imagine it must get a little lonely sitting there all by himself every day. I guess I take it for granted that I spend most of my workdays alongside people who double as my good friends.

It is simply a given that when you pick up equipment form this fellow that you’re going to have a difficult time getting out of there within any sort of normal timeframe. You just have to plan your day around the extra 30 minutes or so you’re going to spend there while this guy talks your ear off. I remember years ago an old college acquaintance, a rather shy person who was a friend of a friend, relocated from Southern CA to the state of Washington. Describing the difficulty he was having in meeting people in his new hometown, this person stated that from the time he left work in the afternoon until he returned the next morning, he made no use of his vocal muscles whatsoever. I always picture this subcontractor in a similar scenario, not speaking to any other human beings except for when we occasionally drop by to pick something up.

I thought I might actually get out of there quickly Thursday morning, as it appeared I came at an inconvenient time and figured he’d want to get me out of there as fast as possible. He looked like he had just gotten out of the shower, answering the door in sweatpants and no shirt.

While he was writing out our invoice he must have noticed me looking around, trying to figure out where the voices I was hearing were coming from.

“I taped some TV shows to my computer last night. I’m going to burn them onto DVD’s with some video editing software I just bought”

He then proceeded to describe this new software in detail, how he was able not only to make his own custom DVD’s, but was also able to create his own menuing system, create his own chapters within the DVD’s, etc. Then, of course, came the kicker:

“You wanna come check it out?”

Now, what a perfect opportunity I had to say “No”. I was working. I could have easily said, “Geez, I’d love to but I’ve really got to get this stuff back to our customer.” Hell, my wife called me on my cell phone in the middle of all this; how easy would it have been for me to pretend the call was work related and use it as an excuse to get out of there?

Instead, of course, I said, “Sure”, and proceeded to enter the small room attached to his garage. I was shown a series of small samples of the 30+ hours of custom DVDs he’s produced, carefully edited from hundreds of hours of televison programs he’s recorded, all of which serve to prove the existence of aliens. The footage was enhanced by his own live commentary introducing each piece:

“... they found a cow in the middle of a field that had been cut from it titties to it’s, uuh, you know, it’s pussy.. But there was NO BLOOD. Aliens.”

Pulling out another DVD from his collection, he explained that if you study the bible close enough, you can find evidence of aliens.

“You know where they describe ‘Chariots of Fire’ in the bible? Well, they only say ‘Chariots’ because there was no word for ‘vehicle’. If the word ‘vehicle’ had been around they would have said ‘vehicle’. The Chariots of Fire were actually alien spaceships.”

Peering over at the cabinet that housed his homemade DVDs, I couldn’t help but notice that when he’s not studying UFO’s and Alien Life Forms, he is most likely watching one of the many pornos that are not too well hidden within the same cabinet. I look at stumbling across somebody’s porn collection (or, more specifically, knowing what they use the porn collection for) the same way I look at catching somebody taking a shit. In other words, I know, intellectually, that it happens, but I don’t need to see the physical evidence.

I’m all for taking one for the team, but I think I’ll be sending one of my partners the next time we need to pick something up from this guy.


Mike gave a very accurate description of our meeting on his own blog. What can I say about Mike that hasn’t already been said by the other bloggers who’ve met him before me except to say that I agree with the others - Michael’s on-line persona of being hysterically funny, highly intelligent, thoughtful and extremely friendly is, if anything, just a scaled down version of the real-life Michael. We met for lunch at 1:30 and didn’t end up leaving the restaurant until nearly 4:30. It occurs to me that this may have been one of the only times in recorded history where two people who knew each other only through the Internet met in real life without the intention of having sex. Our meeting even featured a surprise guest appearance via phone fromAJ who also lived up to his well-deserved reputation as everyone’s favorite “nice guy” blogger

Mike mentioned at the beginning of lunch his plan to cease operations over at Make Mine Mike. I’m not going to lie to you - I was a little bummed. I don’t even remember if I mentioned this to Mike or not, but his was one of the first blogs I discovered upon entering the Blog-o-Sphere, and I believe he was one of the first people to ever comment on this site when it was a mere 2 of 3 posts old. I’ve used Mike as something of a blogging standard for myself, in that I’ve used his posts as the goal of what I’d like mine to reach someday in terms of writing quality. Mike, I completely understand your reasons for taking time off and I think it is the right decision, but Blogland is going to be a little less interesting because of it. Good luck and keep in touch.

Happy New Year!
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